Measles on flight to NZ

Last updated 11:28 15/01/2014

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Passengers who travelled on a flight to Auckland from Singapore may have been exposed to measles.

Singapore Airlines flight SQ281 arrived at Auckland International Airport at 11.45pm on Sunday.

Dr Richard Hoskins, medical officer of health at the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS), said a passenger with measles was infectious during the flight.

Passengers on the same flight might soon experience symptoms, if they were infected.

The time delay from being exposed to measles to developing symptoms is usually eight to 14 days, but can be up to 21 days.

The first symptoms are a fever and can include a runny nose, cough and sore red eyes.

After a few days a red blotchy rash appears and lasts up to one week. It usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.

Passengers who feel unwell should call their GP or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice. People who suspect they may have measles are asked to call before visiting doctors because measles is highly infectious and it could infect other people in the waiting room.

Measles is a serious illness, with one in 10 cases needing hospital treatment It is infectious before the rash appears.

It is easily transmitted through the air and can even be passed on while walking past infected strangers or while waiting at an airport gate.

People most at risk of contracting the disease are those who have not had the measles, mumps or rubella (MMR) vaccine, or who have had just one dose of the vaccine.

"There is no treatment for measles: the only protection and best way to avoid its complications is to be fully vaccinated," Hoskins said.

He urged parents to check that their children's immunisations are up to date.

A measles outbreak across the North Island has so far been contained to 11 people who contracted the disease after a hip-hop event in Sydney.

Only one case has been confirmed in Auckland.

In 2011, the country experienced two big outbreaks, each of which was started by people who were infected overseas.

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- Fairfax Media

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